Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Parent and Student Information
Posted on 11/13/2017
Our high schools are taking part in the Wisconsin Youth Risk Behavior Survey the week of November 20th. The survey will ask about the health behaviors of 9th and 11th grade students. It will also include questions about behaviors that result in unintentional and intentional injuries, tobacco use, and alcohol and other drug use. This survey will ask about sexual behaviors that may result in HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases, and, unwanted pregnancies and dietary behavior and physical activity.

Students will be asked to fill out a questionnaire that takes about 25 minutes to complete. They will take the survey during extended homeroom.  

Completing this anonymous survey will cause little or no risk to your child. The only potential risk is that some students might find certain questions to be sensitive. The survey has been designed to protect your child’s privacy. Students will not put their names on the survey. Also, no class or student will ever be mentioned by name in a report of the results. Your child will get no benefit right away from taking part in the survey. However, the results of this survey will help children in the future by influencing health and safety programs.

We would like all selected students to take part in the survey, but the survey is voluntary. No action will be taken against you, or your child, if your child does not take part.  Students can skip any question that they do not wish to answer. In addition, students may stop participating in the survey at any point without penalty.

Please see the below Parent and Student Information for more facts about the survey. If your child’s teacher or principal cannot answer your questions about the survey, please contact Polly VandenBoogaard, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, at (920) 832-6114.

If you do not want your child to take part in the survey, please contact the school office at 832-6201 no later than Friday, November 17.  

Q. Why is the survey being done?
A: The Appleton Area School District will survey all 9th and 11th graders and will use the survey results to help measure how many youth engage in health-risk behaviors.  The survey results will be used to create school health programs to help reduce these risk behaviors and promote health enhancing behaviors.

Q: What does the YRBS measure and why are these things important?
A: The YRBS focuses on health-risk behaviors that result in the most significant mortality, morbidity, and social problems during both adolescence and adulthood.  These include: 1) behaviors that result in unintentional and intentional injuries;  2) tobacco use; 3) alcohol and other drug use; 4) sexual behaviors that may result in HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancies; 5) dietary behaviors; and 6) physical activity.  The YRBS measures student attitude and perceptions related to health risk behaviors.  In addition, the YRBS measures assets, which have the power to protect youth from engaging in risk behaviors and at the same time promote healthy behaviors.

To determine the level of risk among adolescents, priority health-risk behaviors must be measured directly.  Measuring only relevant knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, or intentions will not provide an accurate description of the level of risk, because the relationship between these factors and the priority of health-risk behaviors themselves often is weak, unproven, or non-existent.  For example, even though most people know that smoking causes lung cancer, many people still continue to smoke.

Q: Does my child have to participate?
A: No. Participation in this survey is voluntary and your child’s grade in this class will not be affected, whether or not they answer the questions. Students also have the option of leaving a question blank that they are not comfortable answering.  If you DO NOT want your student to participate in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, please contact the school office no later than Nov. 17, 2017. 

Q: Will student participation be anonymous?
A: Yes.  Survey administration procedures have been designed to protect student privacy and allow for anonymous participation.  Students will not put their names or other identifying information on the questionnaires.

Q: How was my child picked to be in the survey?
A: Students in 9th and 11th grade were selected to participate. 

Q: How long does it take to fill out the survey?  Does the survey include a physical test?
A: Most students take 20-30 minutes to fill out the survey.  The survey does not include a physical test or exam.

Q: Doesn’t a survey like this actually encourage students to engage in these behaviors?
A: The causes and determinants of health-risk behaviors are very complex.  Students are exposed frequently to information about tobacco, alcohol, other drug use, violence, and sexuality through the media, parents, friends, and the broader community.  Exposure to a small number of questions on any one topic is not likely to cause a change in behavior – either good or bad.  If it were that easy, we could simply ask students about all the things we want them to do!

Q: Do students answer the question truthfully?
A: Research indicates data of this nature may be gathered as reliably from adolescents as from adults. To obtain truthful answers, students must perceive the survey as important and know that procedures have been developed to protect their privacy and allow for anonymous participation.

Q: Can I review a copy of the survey?
A: Yes, a copy of the survey will be available for parents to review in your child’s high school student services office.

Q: What will be done with the results?
A: A report summarizing the student data will be developed.  Remember—no child and no class will ever be mentioned by name. 
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